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2017-18 MAC Men’s Basketball Preview: #9 Toledo Rockets

Kenneth Bailey

The Toledo Rockets finished last season 17-17 and 9-9 in the MAC. Gone from that team are three starters that all made significant contributions. Jonathan Williams led the team and scoring, while Steve Taylor Jr. was second in points, and led the team in rebounds and assists. Also gone is Jordan Lauf, who was second on the team in rebounds.

While a significant portion of the roster is gone, there are plenty of pieces that remain. I expect Jaelan Sanford to pick up a big chunk of the scoring load, while I also expect Colorado transfer Tre'Shaun Fletcher to put up a lot of points in coach Todd Kowalczyk’s offense. The 6’7 guard/forward shot 40% from beyond the arch in Pac 12 play in 2015-16. Nate Navigato had a nice amount of double digit scoring performances at the beginning of MAC play last season, before some shooting woes took over at the end of the season. I believe he’ll bounce back from the sophomore slump.

I think the Rockets will be fine with the points, much like last season. What I am most concerned about is the lack of a field general. As of right now, I don’t know who they will run the offense through. Last season, they ran a lot of the offense through big Steve Taylor Jr. or let Jonathon Williams create on his own. Rebounding might also be an issue, as Taylor was one of the better rebounders in the entire nation. Navigato and 6’11 Luke Knapke are both tall enough to make this happen, as are others.

This is a typical Rockets team. They are long and lean and a three point shooting machine. I am confident that this team will be as good as it was last year, however I do have one major red flag. While Williams and Taylor were fantastic players, I am most concerned about the depature of Lauf. At times he seemed like he was the glue that held the different pieces together. If this team can find a floor leader and also some of the younger players step up on the glass, the ceiling on this team is actually higher than it was last season, however.